Watson Chapel baseball coach Chad Cope couldn’t have asked for a better lead in to arguably his team’s two biggest games of the season.
Every starter had at least one hit as the Wildcats roughed up four Camden Fairview pitchers en route to an 18-1 win in five innings on Tuesday afternoon.
“We probably hit the ball as well as we have all year,” Cope said. “I told our guys to just take the pressure off.
“And they did a great job with their approach.”
The 16-hit performance came at a crucial time with the Wildcats in the thick of the 5A-South Conference race.
Watson Chapel (15-5, 9-1) trails Hot Springs Lakeside by a half game in the standings. The Wildcats will play the Rams (14-7, 10-1) on Monday, but before that Watson Chapel will face rival White Hall (10-9, 6-4) on Friday.
“Anytime you can hit the ball it helps,” Cope said about trying to carry over the momentum. “We can only control what we can control.
“Those are two really good teams, but you have to just worry about yourself.”
If Tuesday’s game was any indication, the Wildcats, who only beat the Cardinals 2-0 in Camden, might just be hitting their stride.
A pair of four-run innings to start the game was just a hint of things to come. The nine-run third inning after Fairview had just scored what would be its only run was the back-breaker.
There were impressive hitting performances all through the Wildcat batting order.
Blake Phillips was 3 for 3 with a walk and three RBIs, Josh Dardenne was 3 for 5 with two RBIs and Landen Colson was 2 for 2 with an RBI.
“It was pretty close for sure,” Colson said about it being the team’s best hitting performance. “I truly believe hitting is contagious and I think that’s what happened (Tuesday).
“Every guy who came up was putting it in play or something. That’s what you have to do. Just put it in play or just put the ball on the ground.”
Somewhat lost in the impressive hitting display was Dardenne’s solid outing on the mound.
He had eight strikeouts while allowing just one unearned run on three hits and a walk over four innings.
“He threw well (Tuesday),” Cope said. “Coach (Greg) Easter did a good job calling the pitches.
“When they put the ball in play we usually did the right thing. We made a couple errors on two easy plays, but we’ll correct that. We just lost a little focus.”
Dardenne also gave credit to Easter as well as his catcher Colson.
“Landen’s been outstanding behind the plate,” he said. “Coach Easter has been right on with his pitch calling.”
Even when Cope pulled Dardenne before the final inning, his decision to put in Jaylen Jackson came up aces as he struck out the side to close out the win.
The all-around great performance left Cope with few complaints and his players with the confidence they need with the Bulldogs and Rams looming.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster,” Colson said of the team’s performance. “We’ll hopefully be hitting it well with two big games coming up against Lakeside and White Hall. …
“It’s going to be tough, but if we keep hitting it, I think we can get the wins.”